The Power of Words - Jose Claudio

The Power of Words

By:Pastor José Claudio

“...the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” (James 3: 5-6).

The previous article spoke about Gender Ideology to present a clear understanding to the readers about the subject.  It was also a response to the protest-rally conducted in Puerto Rico in reference to such and to the education of our children.  The question examined was: is it appropriate to introduce Gender Ideology curricula in our schools?

The key elements are education, understanding, and communication!  What do the political, religious, health, and educational leaders want to convey when they decide to introduce these changes? What type of “talking” is presented within their “project”?  What are their intentions and self-interests while delivering a message or presenting their task?  What is their intended change? Is it done for the common-good of the community participating in such changes or is it just, simply, “playing power”?  These are some of the questions many people have whenever a “new way” of doing things, which in many cases is the old same way, arises.  Therefore, community action or reaction may follow in response to such a new way.

Now let’s talk about this month’s topic: The Power of Words.  Some scholars may call it the power of the tongue or talk.  Such power may be implemented in schools, church or religious organizations, health fields, and society in general.  Whoever hears may be delivered from oppression, experience freedom, and/or simply feel satisfied with what it has been heard. But, life experience has shown me that, that is not always the case.  Let’s take for example the message of President Joe Biden on September 10, 2021, in an effort to fulfil a task on the vaccination campaign.  What follows were Biden’s  remarks:

  1.  “Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free.”

  2. “While the vaccines provide strong protections for the vaccinated, we read about, we hear about, and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their death beds, among the unvaccinated over these past few weeks.”

  3. “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

  4. “And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.  Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.  This is totally unacceptable.”

  5. “That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are.”

  6. “The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or pancreitis [pancreatitis], or cancer.”

  7. “But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.”

  8. “These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.”

  9. “This is not about freedom or personal choice.”

  10. “I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees”

  11. “The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers”

  12. “Already, I’ve announced, we’ll be requiring vaccinations that all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid, because I have that federal authority.”

  13. “Tonight, I’m using that same authority to expand that to cover those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.”

  14. “If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.”

  15. “Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all.  And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.”

  16. “If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce.”

  17. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.”

  18. “It’s a tragedy.”

Are these powerful words/expressions or words delivered under destructive anger?  Is language being used here to oppress or condemn the unvaccinated ones for where they are in their life journey?  Now the unvaccinated people have a “stamp” - a label: “unvaccinated.”  Are the unvaccinated  being condemned or segregated for choosing to be different?  What about their religious beliefs or medical conditions? Do I have to be frustrated with their unvaccinated condition?  Many things can be said about Biden’s words, but let us concentrate on a powerful fact, language.

Does language make a difference in our everyday use in our educational setting, communities or society in general?  That is one of the questions of many language scholars.  Do our words promote equality, equity or  social justice?  How do words such as the presidential ones affect our (1) understanding and (2) the way we act?  What about words from the pulpit or in the classroom?  How does our audience understand and respond to what has been said?

That can be a problem; and there is a call to us to solve it using speeches that underline inequalities, speech that transforms the culture of churches, schools, communities, and society as a whole.  Let’s use words, language, as a tool for better teaching, better programs, better assessments, and better learning.  Let us find new words to empower our people instead of marginalizing them and putting more oppression than what we already have. Let us promote freedom and relief from painful words.  Let’s be agents of transformation, motivation, and justice.  Let’s create environments for valuing socioeconomics, racial and cultural background, gender or sexual orientation, language, family structure, and other variables that in turn affect individuals and families.  Although on many occasions such tasks involve some risks.

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

US Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States numbering 54.2 million as of July 2014. Serving: Buffalo, Rochester, Fredonia, Niagara Falls, NY and Erie, PA. Outside our Market area: Visit our affiliate at:

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